12 March 2013
The Government of Japan has announced a new contribution of US$15 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This latest donation will contribute to the delivery of humanitarian aid for Palestine refugees in Syria as well as to the provision of health care for Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
Of the total US$15 million, US$5 million will support UNRWA’s humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria and provide relief to some 280,000 Palestine refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The other US$ 10 million will be allocated to UNRWA’s 17 health centres in the oPt. These health centres have recently seen major reforms in accordance with the Agency’s new family health team approach. With growing health-care needs, rising health-care costs, and limited financial resources, UNRWA last year initiated a comprehensive reform of its its health-care centres to ensure continued access to quality care for Palestine refugees. Family health teams are made up of doctors, nurses, and midwives who provide continuous, comprehensive, patient-centred services.
Welcoming the contribution, UNRWA Commissioner-General thanked the Government of Japan for its support. “Once again, the people of Japan have come together to support UNRWA and assist Palestine refugees most in need,” he said.
“With the highest life expectancy in the world, it seems fitting that Japan has prioritised strengthening UNRWA’s family health team approach in the West Bank and Gaza. On top of that, the additional contribution to our Syria Regional Response Plan will allow us to provide emergency services to those Palestine refugees desperately seeking respite from the suffering caused by the ongoing conflict.”
Japan is an important partner to UNRWA, and has been a member of its Advisory Commission since 1973. Between 1953 and 2011, the Government of Japan contributed over US$600 million to Agency operations across the Middle East.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at USD 67.2 million.